Remembering an Islay Hero - Alexander McDougall

Major General Alexander Mc-Dougall was a hero of the American War of Independence, a member of the first US Congress, one of America’s first government Ministers and first Chairman of one of America’s first banks. And he was born just outside Port Ellen. At Portintruin, on the road to Laphroaig, this legendary figure in America’s history first saw the light of day. And it’s there that a memorial cairn was unveiled on 1st September.

Built from local stone by local man Douglas Smith, on land donated by farmer Willie Gemmell and incorporating a replica of Mc-Dougall’s memorial stone from the First Presbyterian Church of New York, the cairn will commemorate the man from Islay who was to play a big part in the creation of the United States of America. The memorial stone outlines the significance of this man to history and two hundred and seventy seven years after his birth will at last give him some recognition in his modest birthplace.

The ceremony to inaugurate the McDougall memorial cairn was attended by senior officials of the Bank of New York Mellon (as it is now known) which McDougall chaired after the Revolutionary War. It was also be attended by pupils from Port Ellen Primary School whose predecessors would have been McDougall’s classmates. Below are the impressions of the Port Ellen Primary School pupils about this special occasion: Continue reading....

A simple milkman - By Jason (P6)
From a simple milkman, to an American hero; only now are we starting to recognise the significance of Major General Alexander McDougall. On Thursday 1st September P6/7 went to Portantruan by bus. On a small hill a small memorial was unveiled overlooking the sea where Alexander McDougall was born. He left Islay when he was six on a voyage that was to change his life. With Captain Lachlan Campbell they set sail for America. In America he worked as a milkman, and then he became a merchant. In the French India war he put six guns on his ship. Then he was involved in American Revolution. After that he started to move up the ranks to become Major General. After the war he became the 1st President of the Bank of New York and went on to become a politician. I think he was an amazing man. The cairn erected for him was great. The plaque was perfect. Mr Ogilvie did a starting speech and then Lord George Robertson. People from the Bank of New York came. I really enjoyed the ceremony. It was great.

Born in Portantruan - By Elinor Baker (P6)
Major General Alexander McDougall was one of the most important men involved in the American War of Independence. At Portantruan where he was born, a cairn to him was unveiled last Thursday, 1st September. This young boy, born on Islay in 1732, grew up to be a truly great man. We went to Portantruan in a minibus and then we climbed a small hill to get to the cairn. It was overlooking the Major General’s place of birth. Lord George Robertson, people from the Bank of New York, Mr Oglivie and Mr Reavey from the Museum of Islay Life were there along with some invited guests. Lord Robertson gave a speech and then we left. The others went to have lunch.

The Major General was born in 1732 at Portantruan. His family left Islay to go to America when he was only 6 years old. When he was 14 he became a merchant seaman and then a privateer. The British put him in prison for five months because he thought that America should not be ruled by the British. After the war, he became the first President of the New York Bank. He died when he was only 53. His last act was to be carried on a stretcher to vote against paper money. I was very honoured to have been invited to the unveiling and I thought that it was very interesting what Major General Alexander McDougall did. It proves to me that if you work really hard you can do anything you want. I wonder what he could have achieved if he had lived longer?

Fought in the American Revolution - By Harry Thomson (P7)
On Thursday 1st September p6/7 from Port Ellen primary school joined Lord George Robertson, Carl Reavey, Mr Ogilvie and lots more to unveil the monument to Major General Alexander McDougall at Portantruan, just outside Port Ellen. First at 10am we all went on the minibus to take us to the monument. When we got there we followed a strimmed track leading up to the assembled group of people. Eventually we all followed Lord Robertson up a hill that led us to the monument. Everyone surrounded the monument as Mr Ogilvie from the Museum of Islay life got ready for his speech. At the end Lord Robertson gave the final speech.

Major General Alexander McDougall was born on Islay at Portantruan near Port Ellen in 1732. He moved to New York at the age of six. In New York he was a milkman in Manhattan. He then moved back to Islay to marry his cousin Nancy. He was a merchant seaman and fought in wars such as the American Revolution. He was so important in the American Revolution because he served America well. The day was great fun and it was a privilege to be there.

Tag: history mcdougall america general

This story was published with kind permission of the Ileach local newspaper.